At a 2012 meeting hosted by the Canadian Safe Boating Council at Lake Muskoka, Ontario, representatives of national boating authorities and organisations from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom considered their collective experience from working to reduce fatalities arising from recreational boating.
Across these nations, the majority of all fatal boating accident victims drown and of these, around 4 out of 5 are reported as not wearing a lifejacket. The single greatest challenge facing the recreational boating safety community today is increasing the lifejacket wear rate among the boating public.
The boating industry largely comprises companies that trade globally, and much of the media that promotes boating is of an international nature.
Howard Glenn, in his capacity as Chair of the Australian Recreational Boating Safety Committee, represented Australia at the meeting, and presented a draft set of principles for cooperative action on the promotion of wearing lifejackets. The main aim of the principles is to normalise lifejacket wear by encouraging boating media around the world to show people wearing lifejackets in small boats. The draft principles were agreed at the meeting as a basis for consultation, and it was agreed that work would continue to finalise them at the Marine 13 conference in Sydney.
Following the Canadian workshop, Howard Glenn who is also the General Manager of the Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs, Transport for NSW, continued contact by email with representatives of Canada, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France, to discuss and agree on the wording of the principles, based on feedback from the different nations’ boating authorities.
The Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs (Transport for NSW) hosted an International Lifejacket Forum in the afternoon of 1 May, following Marine13, involving representatives of marine authorities and organisations from Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France.
More than 70 people attended the forum which was held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and provided the opportunity for a public declaration of endorsement of the International Lifejacket Wear Principles.